A new breast cancer screening technique has the potential to reduce false
positives and, possibly, minimize the need for biopsies, U.S. researchers say.
Electrical engineer Neal Bangerter and University of Utah collaborators Rock
Hadley and Joshua Kaggie, created a magnetic resonance imaging device that could
improve both the process and accuracy of breast cancer screening by scanning for
sodium levels in the breast.
"The images we're obtaining show a substantial improvement over anything that
we've seen using this particular MRI technique for breast cancer imaging,"
Bangerter, the study's senior author, said in a statement
The study, published in the journal Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, said the
device was producing as much as five-times more accurate images than previous
efforts with an emerging methodology called sodium MRI.
There are two clinical imaging methods widely used for screening breast cancer:
mammograms and proton MRI scans. X-ray mammography is the most common screening
tool, but the procedure involves X-ray exposure and is generally unpleasant.
Mammograms are relatively inexpensive, but they still lead to invasive biopsies
when something suspicious is detected, Bangerter said.
Because of their increased sensitivity, proton MRI scans are generally used to
further examine suspicious areas found by mammograms. However, they can produce
false positives leading to unnecessary interventions such as biopsies.
Sodium MRI has the potential to improve assessment of breast lesions because
sodium concentrations are thought to increase in malignant tumors.
Bangerter and his team said the addition of sodium MRI to a breast cancer
screening exam could provide important additional diagnostic information that
would cut down on false positives.